On Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Rafael Molina, Jr. circulated notices to alert Lake of the Woods residents for the first time that there was a serious water shortage in their area. Output from the district’s main well had gone from a gusher to a trickle and water has beeen trucked in to fill the storage tanks in the summer of 2014. [Pam Sturdevant photo]
By Patric Hedund, Editor
For far too long, local residents and water companies have been relying on luck and faith, basically flying blind when it comes to the carrying capacity of the local aquifer.
Talented people like Doug Peters tried to get a water study going in this region nine years ago. But there has always been an insular quality to our individual water companies.
If this drought has had one silver lining, it has been to open up more communication between local water companies. Frazier Park Public Water District (FPPUD) and Lake of the Woods Mutual Water Company (LOWMWC) have even joined together in a $209,000 planning grant from the State of California to seek ways to work together to chart the aquifer, while seeking new water resources. The funds have not yet been delivered, but the process has already started to increase understanding about what is involved in collaborating on such things together.
The Mil Potrero Mutual Water Company (serving the Pine Mountain community) has also begun outreach to the U.S. Forest Service about collaborating on a study of the aquifer on the west side of the Mountain Communities.
Now three local water companies have received good news about their quests to find enhanced supplies of healthy drinking water for their customers. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has presented three $500,000 grants for new wells in this area.
The Lake of the Woods MWC has been approved for a $500,000 USDA grant to locate and install a new well. They have been the focus of national news because their main well suddenly declined to a trickle in April 2013. Lake of the Woods has been trucking water from Lebec to fill its tanks for distribution to LOW customers this summer, who are under strict conservation measures. Residents are not allowed to water outside landscaping except with grey water.
FPPUD has also received confirmation it will receive a $500,000 grant for a new well.
“Our well will be in the [maintenance] yard, across from the water company building,” said Executive Office Administrator Alice Garcia. “We walked the ground with Dee Jasper [of Dee Jasper and Associates, Inc. Consulting Civil Engineers], Dave Warner [of Self Help Enterprises, Inc.] and USDA’s Robert Neilson and Theresa Hogan,” Garcia said.
A letter confirming the award was received on June 19, 2014. Two earlier USDA loan-grants (one in 2009 for $3.1 million) have helped FPPUD repair and replace parts of the legacy 1920s water distribution system.
Board President Michael Hightower of the Lebec County Water District (LCWD) confirmed that they too will be receiving $500,000 from USDA. They will be using the engineering firm of Provost and Pritchard.
“They have been working with us all along,” said Michael Hightower about the engineering firm. LCWD must seek an alternative to the Mesa Valley Well, which has high-fluoride levels.
With all this activity, and all this public money going into water exploration, wouldn’t it make sense to come together now to create an overview plan for sharing information to create the beginnings of a regional aquifer map?
Where is the local council that can take the lead in keeping this vital effort on point?
Perhaps that is one more reason why a local leadership group, such as an elected Municipal Advisory Council, may make sense to provide local vision toward vital local goals.
On Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Rafael Molina, Jr. circulated notices to alert Lake of the Woods residents for the first time that there was a serious water shortage in their area. Output from the district’s main well had gone from a gusher to a trickle.
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This is part of the July 25, 2014 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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